CC-Link benefits for Maruti Suzuki

27 August 2013

Maruti Suzuki is producing over 1.5 million vehicles annually. It has been the largest single producer in the Indian car market for over 25 years. The company produces 15 different brands and makes over 150 variants of its models.

The Indian manufacturing plants are highly automated, and are continually being updated and improved. In recent times the installation of several CC-Link industrial communications has enhanced various systems on the shop floors, as part of a continuous development plan.

CC-Link is an open automation network technology that allows devices from many different manufacturers to be mixed and matched on the same network, allowing users to install best in class control equipment, rather than being tied to a single manufacturer. Currently over 1,200 products from more than 260 manufacturers are available.

CC-Link has been installed in several applications across the plant, such as the Cordless Limit Wrench, a system which provides fool proofing for torquing of critical joints during the assembly of each vehicle. It guarantees application of correct torque by stopping the assembly conveyor if a joint is over- or under-torqued or even missed completely.

Previously, the torque control system was hard wired and very complex: CC-Link has reduced the wiring and complexity by an order of magnitude, improving reliability and making maintenance far easier. It has also freed up shop floor space and reduced cost by enabling a much more compact control panel to be designed.

It has also been retrofitted to what Maruti-Suzuki calls the ‘Pika Pika’ system, This is their interpretation of the ‘poke yoke’ or error proofing system. The system guides the correct selection of component parts during assembly and prevents incorrect parts being used. With such a huge number of vehicle variations going down the line, without this kind of assistance it soon becomes difficult for assembly workers to always be sure they are fitting the right parts on the right vehicles. Here, CC-Link is playing a key role in maintaining vehicle quality by ensuring errors are eliminated at source, preventing expensive re-work and making sure defects do not reach the customer. CC-Link in this system has also provided cost reductions through simplified cabling, reduced installation time and increased flexibility when line changes or updates are implemented.

CC-Link was also used to update the Andon system and the Vehicle Tracking System (VTS). Andons (from the Japanese word for lantern) are typically large electronic displays used in manufacturing plants to communicate critical production information and faults to employees so that appropriate action can be taken. In the case of Maruti-Suzuki, the Andon system is used for monitoring, displaying and recording conveyor and equipment stoppage information and calculating line efficiency. The VTS system is critical for flexibility in manufacturing, and broadcasts individual vehicle information to conveyor line equipment so that the correct parts are fitted and appropriate operations are executed at each work station. It also helps to increase line efficiency by eliminating the need for manual interventions.
Benefits gained through the use of CC-Link in the VTS include a 40% reduction in cables and hardware through use of CC-Link remote I/O, a reduction in installation time, capacity for transmitting up to 128 different signals and interconnectivity with other systems, Previously, the system had only allowed the handling of 4-5 signals and had no ability to communicate with other systems.

All data captured by the VTS such as tightening torques, fluid levels and so on is logged for quality control and analysis within the enterprise IT system.

Maruti-Suzuki now plans to increase the amount of data handled within the plant, and connect widely separated systems. These are both well within the capabilities of the CC-Link network, whose 10 Mbit communication speed allows dozens of stations to be updated in a few milliseconds. Further, with a single bus length of up to 1,200 metres (13.2 km with repeaters), CC-Link is also well suited to covering the large distances often encountered in automotive assembly plants. Finally, the plant management is expecting further cost savings in wiring and installation realised via the elimination of intermediate I/O and wiring by the use of devices such as nut-runners which connect directly to the network.

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